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Prevent UTI: Learn How to Keep Urinary Tract Infections at Bay

Woman eating probiotic yoghurt to prevent utis.

To prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), drink plenty of fluids, urinate promptly after intercourse, maintain good hygiene by wiping from front to back, wear cotton underwear, avoid spermicides, and consult your doctor about cranberry products. Persistent UTIs may need evaluation by a urologist.¹


Urinary tract infections can be more than just a nuisance; they can significantly impact your daily life and health. This guide is designed to help you navigate UTIs and arm you with the knowledge to prevent them. From exploring the common causes and symptoms of UTIs to uncovering effective prevention techniques and home remedies, we provide a thorough overview of everything you need to know to maintain a healthy urinary tract. 

Understanding UTIs

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can affect any part of the urinary system, from the kidneys to the urethra, though most commonly it involves the lower tract – the bladder and urethra. Women are more prone to UTIs due to their shorter urethra, but men can also get UTIs, though less frequently.

UTIs are typically caused by bacteria, primarily Escherichia coli (E. coli), entering the urinary tract through the urethra and multiplying in the bladder. Symptoms include a persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, and pelvic pain in women.

Recognising these signs is essential for prompt treatment to prevent complications such as kidney infections, which can lead to long-term damage. Early detection and proper medical care are essential for managing UTIs effectively.¹

UTI Causes

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the body through the urethra, which is shorter in females compared to males. Additionally, the proximity of the vagina to the anus, where bacteria commonly reside, further increases the likelihood of UTIs in females.¹

Factors Increasing UTI Risk

UTIs can affect anyone, but certain groups are at higher risk. These include sexually active women and those experiencing menopause, as well as individuals with conditions like diabetes or urinary incontinence. Women using spermicides or diaphragms for contraception also face increased UTI risk and may consider alternative methods if UTIs recur.

Additional risk factors include:

  • Males with prostate issues: Enlarged prostates can hinder complete bladder emptying, raising infection risk.
  • Older adults: Medications and incontinence issues heighten UTI susceptibility.
  • Individuals with urinary catheters: Those unable to fully empty their bladder or who are critically ill face increased infection risk.
  • People with diabetes: Altered immune function increases vulnerability to infections.
  • Infants: Infants in nappies, especially those with congenital urinary tract abnormalities, are prone to UTIs.¹

 

Understanding these common causes can help in taking preventative measures against UTIs.

A couple engaging in sexual activity.

How to Prevent UTIs

If you’re prone to recurrent UTIs, consider these self-help measures to reduce the risk of future infections:

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Drinking adequate fluids helps flush bacteria from your urinary tract, reducing the risk of UTIs.

Urinate Promptly

Urinate as soon as you feel the urge to avoid holding urine, which can allow bacteria to grow in the bladder.

Urinate After Intercourse

Emptying your bladder after sexual activity helps eliminate bacteria introduced during intercourse.

Wipe Front to Back

Always wipe from front to back after urinating to prevent bacteria from the anus from reaching the urethra or vagina.

Wear Cotton Underwear

Cotton underwear allows your genital area to breathe and reduces moisture, which can help prevent bacterial growth.

Consider Alternative Birth Control

If you use spermicides and experience recurrent UTIs, discuss alternative contraceptive methods with your healthcare provider.

Avoid Harsh Products

Perfumed soaps, talcum powder, and deodorants can irritate the genital area and disrupt its natural bacteria balance, increasing UTI risk.

Use Lubricant

Using lubricant during intercourse, especially if experiencing vaginal dryness, can reduce friction and irritation, lowering the risk of UTIs.

 

A woman staying hydrated to prevent urinary tract infections.

Can Diet Influence Bladder Infections in Adults?

There is no clear evidence that diet can prevent or treat bladder infections.² Cranberry products, such as juice, extract, or pills, are not effective treatments for existing bladder infections. While some studies suggest cranberry products may help prevent infections, the evidence is inconclusive.³

For safety, consult your healthcare provider before using dietary supplements, vitamins, or alternative medicines or practices.

Can hydration affect bladder infections?

Staying hydrated by drinking enough liquids can help prevent or alleviate bladder infections. Water is the best choice for hydration.²

Recognising UTI Symptoms

Recognising the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) is important for timely diagnosis and treatment. Common signs include experiencing frequent urges to urinate, passing small amounts of urine, and feeling that the bladder is not completely empty after urination. UTIs can also cause discomfort or a burning sensation during urination, along with urine that may appear cloudy, dark, or have an unusual odour. Some individuals may also develop fever, nausea, or feel generally unwell, while older adults might experience confusion alongside these symptoms. Pain in the lower back or abdomen can also occur. If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they persist or worsen, it’s advisable to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment of UTIs can help prevent complications and promote faster recovery.¹

Understanding these symptoms can empower you to recognise the signs of a UTI early and seek appropriate medical care. Prompt treatment can alleviate discomfort and prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys or causing more serious complications.¹

If you suspect you have a UTI based on these symptoms, consulting a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment is recommended. They can provide accurate diagnosis through urine tests and prescribe appropriate antibiotics or other treatments to address the infection effectively. Taking proactive steps to manage symptoms and prevent UTIs is essential for maintaining urinary tract health and overall well-being.

When To Seek Medical Help

If you’re experiencing symptoms such as a persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, or pelvic pain, it’s important to consider these as potential signs of a urinary tract infection. Early recognition and treatment are key to preventing complications. 

Take charge of your urinary tract health today. Start your hub.health consultation!

Sources

  1. Urinary tract infection (UTI) – symptoms, treatment and prevention | healthdirect. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/urinary-tract-infection-uti-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention [Accessed 13 June 2024].
  2. Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Bladder Infection in Adults – NIDDK (nih.gov). Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-infection-uti-in-adults/eating-diet-nutrition [Accessed 13 June 2024].
  3. Cranberry | NCCIH (nih.gov). Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cranberry [Accessed 13 June 2024].

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. The health and medical information on this site is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied.

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